Can the Kingdom Be Taken by Force?
And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. Matthew 11:12 NKJV
“The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it. Luke 16:16-17 NKJV
“[T]he kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force” are two easily misunderstood statements that often raise more questions than answers. And, the confusion is compounded further when compared with the statement, “and everyone is pressing into it.” The Greek word for “suffers violence” and pressing is the same exact word (“biazo” which means to force; to crowd oneself into; or to be seized). It is only used in Matthew 11:12 and Luke 16:16, suggesting that a multitude of people are squeezing together to get into the doors of the kingdom of God—not so now or ever! Even in Jesus’ earthly ministry, the record shows that He had 12 apostles, on another occasion He commissioned 72, after His ascension, there were 120 believers in the Upper Room on the day of Pentecost.
It is clear that the problem to due to various English bible translations. For example, the Douay-Rheims Bible (1582), which predates the King James Bible (1611), translates “everyone is pressing into it” in Luke 16:16 as “everyone is behaving violently against it. This seems to be more consistent with the actual Greek word as pointed out above. To behave violently against the kingdom is to assault, afflict, oppress, persecute and constrain the message and the messenger. Herod Antipas, Tetrarch of Galilee, the Jewish leaders among the Pharisees and Sadducees all proved to be violent. The “violent take it by force” were violent people behaving badly to forcefully seize upon the kingdom of God (See Matt. 3:1, 7; 4:12; 14:3-10).
Thus, there is never a need for a true believer to “take it by force.” Jesus was referring to violence, violent people, and the force they used to seize upon John the Baptist and the kingdom of God. Remember, it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom (Luke 12:32) and the Scriptures cannot be broken (John 10:35). It is to err to try to make the Scriptures say something that it doesn’t say to fit your false religious belief or culture. Thank God. There is no need to bombard the gates of hell in the name of the violent take it by force!
Yes, the kingdom can suffer violence from violent people, but can the kingdom ever be taken by force? Absolutely not! Why is there a need for force when “as many as ordained and predestined to eternal life will believe (Acts 13:48; Rom. 28:29, 30), and only those that the Father draws can be born into the kingdom (John 3:3, 5; 6:44); and then, the Father Himself conveys you into the kingdom and places this unshakable kingdom within you (Luke 17:21; Heb. 12:28)—no need for force or violence!
You can use violence and force against the kingdom with opposition and persecution, but the true believer doesn’t have to take anything that the King has given him—just receive it!